Category: compassion

GIVING IS JUSTICE IN ACTION…

VA-YAK HEL — Giving charity is for everyone. Tzedakah, the Hebrew word for charity, actually correctly translates as justice. Whether one has a lot or a little, giving is an integral part of a Jewish life. Even the poor are required to give a little charity. Money, food, our time, out-grown clothes, older toys, all can be useful to others in need. A community is only as strong as the willingness of its members to help each other. This week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, stresses that every member of the community must participate in contributing to the building of the...

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CHERISHING WHAT IS BROKEN…

KI TISSA —  We are each our own harshest critics. It is very easy to see our own flaws and what we could do better. We dwell on things in ourselves that others don’t even notice. But this does not prevent us also from seeing flaws in those around us. Often it is easy to focus on what is not as we would like. But these flaws, like veins in a beautiful gem, are what remind us that we are each unique creations. Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all perfect and no butterfly were...

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FUN VERSUS PRINCIPLES…

MISHPATIM — Often in life we look for the fireworks, the fun ride, the sparkling party, but it’s the everyday, the prosaic, that really creates the infrastructure for a solid life. Consider what happens in this week’s Torah portion.  After the thunder, voices and lightning at Sinai in our last parsha, in this one we find law after law.  Such a letdown after the terrifying excitement of Sinai!  But what we find here are really the tenets of how to live a life– how to live with one another on a daily basis.  For some examples: “You should not carry...

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INSULTS LEAVE A LASTING IMPACT…

MISHPATIM — We must carefully value our speech. Words are a powerful tool. They can bring people closer or they can distance them. They can hurt or they can heal. Whether we are speaking to a family member, a friend, a teacher, a neighbor, or a stranger, our words always have an impact. Even if the person we’re speaking to doesn’t seem to care, everyone is affected by our tone and manner of speaking. If we are often insulting or disrespectful, we become a problem both to others and to ourselves. This week our Torah portion emphasizes that the...

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ROSH HASHANAH—An Opportunity for Personal Growth

ROSH HASHANAH — Rosh Hashanah is perceived as the Jewish New Year, but it is so much more than that. It is time to reflect on the quality of relationships with friends and family and compare yourself to the way you were a year ago. Rosh Hashanah, according to the tradition, gives you a time to make amends to family and friends. Use the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah to go through a process of introspection and evaluation with your family, thinking and talking about habitual problems and conflicts that are difficult to change. Seeing other family members,...

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